1st 2nd & 3rd Aliyot: It's the year 2205 and Yaakov is 97 years old. He sends messengers to greet Esav and is informed that Esav is approaching, prepared to do battle. He applies a three pronged strategy in preparation for the confrontation: a) Tefilah – prayer b)diplomacy c) war. Prior to the actual confrontation, Yaakov bests Esav in a spiritual battle with Eisav's Angel, and earns the name "Yisrael." Due to the wound he sustained in the battle, G-d prohibits Yakov and his family from eating the Gid Hanashe – the sciatic nerve. Yaakov and Esav meet after 34 years.
4th Aliya: Yakov and Eisav agree to separate peacefully. Esav returns to his kingdom of Seir, and Yaakov settles outside of the city of Shechem.
5th Aliya: Dina is abducted and raped by Shechem the son of Chamor, and Shimon and Levi devise a strategy for successfully killing the entire male population of Shechem. According to Chazal, Shimon and Levi were 13 years old. Hashem (G-d) instructs Yaakov to move to Beth El. Rivka's nurse Devorah dies, and Hashem confirms the name Yisrael upon Yaakov.
6th & 7th Aliyot: Rachel dies while giving birth to Binyamin and Yaakov buries her in Bet Lechem. Following Rachel's death, Reuven switches the bed of Yaakov from Bilha's tent to Leah's tent. Although Yitzchak will live another 21 years, the Torah relates his death at the age of 180 (2228). The remainder of Vayishlach lists Esav's descendants as well as the specific Kings of Seir who ruled prior to King Saul – the first king of Israel. (2882)
This week's Haftarah is the Book of Ovadiah, which is the smallest book of the Prophets – only one chapter. Ovadiah lived during the time of Eliyahu, and the difficult reign of Achav and Ezevel (3043-705 b.c.e.) We were introduced to Ovadiah in the Haftarah of Para shat Vayera when Elisha miraculously helped his widow.
Ovadia's personal commitment and courage in saving 100 prophets from the purges of Ezevel (Jezebel) was rewarded by himself becoming one of the prophets who would prophesies about the demise of evil and the ultimate salvation of the righteous.
The connection to our Paarsha is the emphasis on Esav's eventual demise. Yoseph, who is the positive manifestation of what Esav could have been, will triumph in eradicating Esav's evil influence from society. "…the house of Yoseph a flame, and the house of Esav stubble. They will set them ablaze and consume them…" (1:18-19) Esav had been given his chance of joining in the creation of the Jewish nation whose influence over society would redirect destiny. Instead of joining, Esav challenged Yaakov, and attempted to destroy him.
Throughout history, Esav rejoiced in Israel's misfortune and boasted of his contribution to their pain and distress. Ovadiah's prophecy, portrays the times of Mashiach when justice will manifest itself in the "measure for a measure", of Esav's destruction. Esav, who destroyed the Bet Hamikdash and sent Israel into exile, will live to see the in-gathering of the exiled and the rebuilding of the Bet Hamikdash. He will experience the ultimate retribution of witnessing what might have been his own glory and triumph, if only he had chosen to do good, rather than bad.
Ovadiah is chosen to deliver this prophecy because he chose to do good over bad. As a servant to the evil Achav and Ezevel, he could have chosen a life of power and glory while carrying out their evil wishes. Instead, he chose to place himself in mortal danger to save the intended victims of Ezevel. In his capacity as the Navi, Ovadiah says to Esav, "You have no excuse! Everyone is challenged and everyone must choose." Those who choose evil will be destroyed, and those who choose good will witness Esav's punishment, and the coming of Mashiach. (1:21)